Monday, November 3, 2008

Beware The "Liberal Thugocracy"

Professor's Liberalism Contagious? Maybe Not:

An article of faith among conservative critics of American universities has been that liberal professors politically indoctrinate their students. This conviction not only fueled the culture wars but has also led state lawmakers to consider requiring colleges to submit reports to the government detailing their progress in ensuring “intellectual diversity,” prompted universities to establish faculty positions devoted to conservatism and spurred the creation of a network of volunteer watchdogs to monitor “political correctness” on campuses.

But a handful of new studies have found such worries to be overwrought. Three sets of researchers recently concluded that professors have virtually no impact on the political views and ideology of their students.

If there has been a conspiracy among liberal faculty members to influence students, “they’ve done a pretty bad job,” said A. Lee Fritschler, a professor of public policy at George Mason University and an author of the new book “Closed Minds? Politics and Ideology in American Universities” (Brookings Institution Press).

The notion that students are induced to move leftward “is a fantasy,” said Jeremy D. Mayer, another of the book’s authors. When it comes to shaping a young person’s political views, “it is really hard to change the mind of anyone over 15,” said Mr. Mayer, who did extensive research on faculty and students.

“Parents and family are the most important influence,” followed by the news media and peers, he said. “Professors are among the least influential.”
Ah, but the myth lives on anyway.
Just a few weeks ago Michael Barone, a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, warned in The Washington Times against “the liberal thugocracy,” arguing that today’s liberals seem to be taking “marching orders” from “college and university campuses.”
LOL. Attention All Students: Please Re-Read "The Communist Manifesto" and Report to Central Planning For Further Indoctrination Into Thugocracy.

Is that even a word?

Seriously, as I've written previously on this topic, the notion that professors today are secretly brainwashing their students in leftist ideology is nonsense. Today's campuses seem far removed from the psychodrama culture wars of the Baby Boomers and the 1960's, and from my last post, "Weber's admonition to be 'value free' seems as relevant and practiced as ever."

I'll close with an example of value-free sociology in action. After discussing the pros and cons of the death penalty over the past two weeks in 3150, I received what I consider my favorite question: "So where do you stand on capital punishment?"

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